We’ve all been there at some point; a few close friends, a PlayStation and a copy of SingStar. First launched in 2004, SingStar has gone on to be a massive commercial success and a cultural phenomenon, so you would assume that the latest version of SingStar, sub-titled “Pop Edition” (referred to hereafter as “Pop”), doesn’t require a review; that it’s just another track pack add-on that should be available to download from the SingStore.
However, the release of Pop also coincided with a recent update for the previous SingStar titles, which enabled Trophies, revised the online community features and added voice control. Wireless microphones also recently become available (after appearing in the trailer for the very first PS3 SingStar, way back in 2007). So it seemed appropriate to check out the latest tunes and the latest features together.
First of all, as with any edition of SingStar, the track listing will either make or break your decision to buy. Pop tries to stick to the middle ground by offering the latest smash hits (Kings of Leon: Sex on Fire, Pink: So What!, Alphabeat: 10,000 Nights and The Killers: Human) with the odd cult classic (Madness: It Must Be Love, Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody and er, Chris De Burgh: Lady in Red). All are perfectly sing-able and great for SingStar gatherings; however there are a couple of seemingly random song choices (Solange: I Decided & Nelly feat. Fergie: Party People). Those aside it remains a worthy addition to the SingStar collection. However, why all of these songs aren’t available to download directly is beyond me.
The core game-play remains as fun (and embarrassing) as ever, racking up points depending on how well you are singing, but it’s all made just that little bit more interesting by the wireless microphones. At a retail price of £30 when bought individually they are far from cheap but they sound great, are well made and make you feel just that little bit more famous as a result. What isn’t so great though is the voice control.
The idea is pretty good. Instead of using the SIXAXIS to choose songs, you simply speak the name of the song or artist into the microphone and SingStar will scroll to it. Then you shout “Select” and the song begins. Where it falls down is when scrolling through the tracks. To browse left or right, you say “Browse left/right” which works fine, however I had issues with stopping it from scrolling and choosing a song. The game instructions tell you to say “Stop”. However, this failed to work and after many frustrating attempts, saying “Select” instead seemed to do the trick. Also, trying to select Gold by Spandau Ballet (shush, it’s a classic!) simply would not work. A nice idea, but a bit hit and miss.
You can turn the voice control off, however and once you are back singing again there are those precious trophies to collect. There are 35 in total, ranging from “Upload 1 piece of media of any type to SingStar Online” to “Score over 9000 on 5 different songs on Hard”. A real mixed bag then, which should at least get owners of SingStar to try out every mode and to go online.
Speaking of online, the system has had a slight facelift with a re-designed home page and profile pages. It did seem slightly easier and quicker to navigate through, and with an ever increasing selection of downloadable songs on the Singstore, the online section continues to impress. So in conclusion, there are some nice new features, new songs, slightly temperamental voice control and great wireless microphones, but it’s still utterly brilliant. Long live the current king of social embarrassment and karaoke: SingStar.